23 March 2014

Nigeria, U.S. Joining Forces Against B/Haram - Ambassador Adefuye

The Nigerian Ambassador to the United States (US), Prof. Ade Adefuye, says Nigeria and the US are cooperating to combat Boko Haram and engage in special economic developments to parts of the North. Adefuye spoke at a meeting of northern governors with the US Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. Extracts from his speech.

Through the mechanisms of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission (BNC) and the Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), U.S. Investment flow into key sectors of the Nigerian economy continues to grow. The goal is to raise the level of FDI flow from the United States to Nigeria to $8 billion annually, up from $5.4 billion in 2012.

In the area of governance, the United States Government continues to provide support to strengthen Nigeria's electoral management bodies, Civil society and other critical stakeholders to advance free, fair and peaceful elections in 2015. This is good for our country.

The challenges of development and insecurity in northern Nigeria, indeed, across the length and breadth of Nigeria, do not wear party colours. These are national problems requiring a bi-partisan approach to solve. It is in light of this that I must encourage the state chief executives to drop their party banners, roll up their sleeves and join hands with the Federal Government to tackle these challenges.

The 2015 elections will come and go, but insecurity, poverty and our various national pathologies will remain with us for as long as the political elites of our country choose to prioritize politics over development. I urge our political leaders to refrain from political grandstanding to score cheap political points. This is an occasion for us to put heads together to solve the Boko Haram problem and violence across much of northern Nigeria.

Our country will make the progress we all crave and, I dare say, the progress we deserve, only by being honest with ourselves. The reason for the problem of insecurity in parts of northern Nigeria predates the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. It is a result of decades of bad governance by the post-independence political elites of our country. The facts behind my assertion cannot be controverted.

Hence, attacks on, and condemnation of President Jonathan for a problem he did not create, and against which he is taking strong and carefully calibrated measures is not only unfair, but absolutely illogical.

Beginning with the work of the Presidential Technical Committee tasked to review fresh modalities for addressing insecurity in parts of northern Nigeria to the Kabiru Turaki committee charged with defining a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the region, the federal government has sought to create a secure and peaceful environment so that socio-economic development could commence. The North East Economic Summit recently held in Gombe State is evidence of Federal Government's commitment towards the socio-economic development of the region.

In my view, facilitating a violence-free environment in northern Nigeria must remain an urgent task for all Nigerians, particularly high level public officials in the region. Northern governors are best placed to lead this patriotic endeavour. Going forward, we must address our minds, energy and resources to addressing the root cause of the crises of insecurity and development in our country.

The causes, if we are honest with ourselves, go beyond poverty. There are governance issues as well. Once again, this is an area where state chief executives working with the federal government can address.

It is of course a legitimate intellectual enquiry to attribute the Boko Haram insurgency and much of the violence in parts of northern Nigeria to poverty.

There is much else to this problem and we must be courageous to dig deep so as to arrive at solutions that will endure. I have gone around Nigeria and can attest that poverty cuts across Nigeria, with income inequality as severe in the North as in other parts of Nigeria. A number of communities in South West, South East and Niger Delta are as poor and poverty stricken as some in the North.

Making poverty an excuse or justification for insurrection in one part of the country is as dishonest as it is unsustainable.

As of now, Nigeria and the US governments are cooperating to combat Boko Haram and engage in special economic developments to parts of northern Nigeria.

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